This cave once had the promise to open up the master cave that lies at the western end of the Black Mountain. Great progress was made in the early years extending the cave via the tight 'Rat Run' which eventually gained the main streamway running through the mountain. This early promise was cut short by the tragic events of 1983 where three students lost their lives and exploration was stopped dead in its tracks.
OSGB Grid References
Location withheld - see notes on access below.
The cave lies on private land within the catchment of the Llygad Llwchwr cave system on the western end of the Black Mountain. The site was identified as a potential route to gain access to the unexplored system that lies beyond the passages in the known caves at Llygad Llwchwr. The site was dug by local cavers from 1981-2 who after clearing a substantial entrance shaft entered open passage beyond. Much of the passage discovered was very long, flat out, arduous and clearly flooded after even moderate rain. In 1983 a breakthrough at the end of this tortuous section entered a small chamber and a route found down to what was believed to the the main streamway under the mountain. In the flurry of exploration that followed, a group of three cavers from Warwick University entered the cave in unsettled weather. Rain set in not long after they entered the cave and the 'Rat Run' flooded before they could reach the small chamber at the far end of it. A prolonged rescue attempt took place in appalling weather, the cavers could not be reached through the original entrance and 'Rat Run' so work began on digging a second shaft to reach the cavers. This was lined with concrete pipes and after three days the streamway was reached. The three lifeless bodies of the cavers were found in the 'Rat Run', but a turn for the worse in the weather meant that it was not safe to recover the bodies to the surface. The bodies were then moved to the small chamber at the end of the 'Rat Run' where they still lie at rest covered with rocks. A makeshift cross constructed from the rescuers' crowbars marking the spot of their internment.
The exact location of the site has to be withheld at the request of the families of the deceased to prevent any further tragedy at the site. It is well known that the site lies at the western end of the Black Mountain, but no further details will be divulged.
Following the deaths of the three students in 1983 the cave entrances were locked and access forbidden by the landowner. In the following years clandestine trips continued until a similar incident occurred in 2004 where following rain a major rescue again occurred at the site. Following this second rescue the landowner filled in both entrances. The exact location of the site is withheld to discourage any further illicit exploration.
The original entrance was a loose shaft through boulders that opened out onto a 10 metre deep shaft. The shaft was scaffolded and two fixed ladders allowed an easy descent to the base. From the bottom of the shaft a brief duck down leads to an open passage that can be followed for about 200 metres both stooping and walking. There are several formations on the roof of this passage. Soon the passage reaches a chamber at the far end of which is a very large but loose boulder choke. Heading into the choke at the right hand side you can follow a path first downwards and then trending upwards to reach a multi way junction at the other side. Taking the left hand passage a low crawl can be followed until it forks at a point where a flat out passage descends off to the right. This is followed to reach a small chamber with a sheer rock face on the opposite wall. Near the top of this rock face is a slot which is the way on. Climbing up and into the slot with the aid of a rusty chain gives access to the start of the 'Rat Run'. The Rat Run is flat out for much of it's 765 metres and tends to dip downwards gently along most of the length. After about 85 metres an inlet brings in a good flow of water making the passage aquatic in normal weather and completely floods it after even moderate rain. After several contortions and squeezes the Rat Run opens out at a slope up into a small chamber. It is in this chamber that the remains of the three University students are now interred. From the far side of the chamber a very exposed climb down leads to the active main streawmay which can be followed through several deep sections and one where the roof is extremely low with limited airspace to reach a boulder choke. The route through the choke is low and wet and emerges in a chamber with an ascending bouldery floor. It was at the top of the slope in this chamber that the cavers dug down a shaft in the 2004 rescue.
No tackle is required
The White Road - Sarah Lotz
Access is strictly forbidden by the landowner. Please do not upset local relations by trying to find or reopen this cave.
The photographs and information of this page has been provided to help cavers planning trips. Caving can be a dangerous activity, if you are interested in exploring caves please join a caving club so you can enjoy a safe introduction to this sport. Local caving clubs are listed on the links page
or you can visit the 'New To Caving' website
for more options.
If you feel that any of the information is incorrect or should be updated please contact us.